I have owned and operated many different businesses over the past 20 years – how time flies when you are having fun! For the most part, it has been great fun, but starting and growing your own business is not for the faint-hearted.
I started my business career when I was in college, trading on the streets of Irish towns and, over the years, I have worked my way up to operating in the boardrooms of international companies. I have had a number of spectacular successes and some spectacular failures – and I have learned a lot from both.
I have been privileged to receive great academic education, but my drive for education was sparked by witnessing my father’s business fail when I was a teenager. He had built up a number of successful businesses, but a single significant change in market circumstances beyond his control brought him down. This gave me the drive and determination to have a qualification that I could fall back on if my business ever went bust. I am glad I did get my qualifications (Commerce degree, MBA, Chartered Accountant and Executive Coach), because sometimes I have needed to get consulting roles, between companies, or at times when my own company could not pay me a salary, which has been too often for my liking.
So I have learned about starting and growing a business both from the classroom and by doing it in the field. Needless to say, the most intense learning happens in the field and not in the classroom. On a recent executive training program, where I participated as a speaker and coach, the CEOs attending repeatedly stated that it was a story from an experienced business leader that inspired them to change direction or to accelerate their company’s growth through implementing the learning.
It is this first-hand experience that has inspired me to write this book. I want to provide you with practical experience that can be implemented in your business to help you to accelerate its growth. I will not give you any classroom theory, only practical advice that I have learned in the field or taken from other colleagues who eat, live and breathe business growth in the real world. This book contains stories and tips that are based on practical experience, learned while growing companies.
One of my overriding reasons for writing this book was the fact that I received very little practical advice myself, as I started and grew my own businesses. I did not have a mentor or coach and practical books with real business advice were hard to come by. I wish I had these resources myself, when I started out on the journey for the first time.
I often equate reading an academic-based business book to reading the manual of your new cell phone: you know you will learn a lot and get more out of your phone if you read it carefully but, if you are like me, you find the book too boring to read, and so you struggle on until you get some practical tips from other users. I have tried to make this book interesting – a ‘good read’, not a manual – with stories and tips to help you in accelerating your company’s growth from someone who has been there and done that. In effect, these are the short cuts to getting the most from your business.
I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading ACCELERATING COMPANY GROWTH and that you take a lot from it, and that it helps you to grow your business beyond what you would have achieved on your own.
Please note that, throughout this book, I have used real-life stories and examples based on my own business experiences, but I have changed names and places to protect the identity of the people involved and exaggerated certain stories to make a point. Nonetheless, the basis of all the stories is true and the changes are not critical to the learning.